Jerome Valcke’s emails handed over by FIFA

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA relented and handed over emails from suspended official Jerome Valcke on Thursday, having blocked access even as Sepp Blatter pledged support for American and Swiss investigations of corruption.

The embattled governing body should cooperate “no matter how close to home those investigations get,” Blatter, who is targeted by both criminal cases, had said earlier Thursday.

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“This is the difficult path we must follow if we are serious about change,” the FIFA president wrote in his weekly in-house magazine column.

Still, Blatter’s comments seemed at odds with FIFA’s behavior during a standoff with Switzerland’s attorney general Michael Lauber.

FIFA had continued to block attempts to unseal emails from Valcke’s business and personal accounts despite Lauber’s public request on Wednesday.

The stand-off ended late Thursday afternoon when FIFA finally stopped insisting that “several conditions will be fulfilled,” Lauber’s office said.

[ MORE: CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer still at odds over 2016 Copa ]

“FIFA informed the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) to unseal all email accounts belonging to Mr. Jerome Valcke, suspended Secretary-General,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “Furthermore, the OAG is pleased to note that FIFA has handed over on its own initiative Mr. Jerome Valcke’s emails since May 2015.”

Valcke’s FIFA and Google email accounts were used to discuss a proposed deal for black-market 2014 World Cup ticket sales, a FIFA-contracted ticket agent alleged last week.

The French official denied wrongdoing but hours after the allegation was made he was suspended by FIFA which also asked its ethics committee to investigate.

“We need to show that we understand the severity of this situation and that we are ready to take the right steps to fix it,” Blatter wrote Thursday.

Lauber and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch last week said at a shared news conference in Zurich that their respective cases implicating senior FIFA officials are expanding, and could yet indict Blatter.

[ MORE: Valcke wanted FIFA payoff before he was suspended ]

The U.S. case alleging bribery and racketeering among FIFA vice presidents and longtime executive committee members has indicted 14 people and taken guilty pleas from four others.

A Swiss case that started with FIFA’s complaint last year of possible money laundering in the 2018-2022 World Cup bid contests is now looking for evidence of criminal mismanagement across FIFA’s day-to-day business.

Blatter has denied wrongdoing and blamed corruption on individuals outside FIFA’s control.

In his column, Blatter linked the criminal investigations to the need for reforming FIFA when his 18-year presidency ends in February, after a previous round of modernizing changes fell short.

[ MORE: Platini speaks about possible USA-Qatar World Cup U-turn ]

“However, the highly regrettable events this year have made it painfully clear those changes have not been enough,” he wrote.

Failing to approve reforms at the Feb. 26 election congress in Zurich would be a “betrayal” of FIFA by the 209 member federations, Blatter suggested.

Some reforms, including term limits for top officials, were rejected by those same members last year in Brazil after Blatter told them that rules forced upon FIFA would later apply worldwide.

Still, Blatter reminded Thursday that “millions of fans around the world … rightly expect the highest standards from those managing the game.”

Premier League injuries, 2020-21

Premier League injuries
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Premier League injuries: With the 2020-21 Premier League season set to kick off this weekend, it’s time to take a look at the players who might be unavailable for the opening weekend.

[ MORE: How to watch PLTV on Peacock ]

Prior to every matchweek of the 2020-21 season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Note: Any player listed for COVID-19 reasons — whether a positive test or additional precautions — will always be deemed “questionable” until they make their return to action.

Arsenal injuries

QUESTIONABLE: David Luiz (neck), Kieran Tierney (groin) | OUT: Gabriel Martinelli (knee), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh), Pablo Mari (ankle), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (calf), Calum Chambers (knee)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Bjorn Engels (thigh), Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed Elmohamady (thigh)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Yves Bissouma (suspension), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee), Christian Walton (ankle)

Burnley injuries

QUESTIONABLE: James Tarkowski (ankle), Ashley Barnes (undisclosed), Robbie Brady (ribs), Jay Rodriguez (foot) | OUT: Ben Mee (thigh), Johann Berg Gudmundsson (knee), Jack Cork (ankle)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh) | OUT: Hakim Ziyech (knee), Andrea Christensen (suspension)

Crystal Palace injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Jairo Riedewald (undisclosed), Christian Benteke (ankle) | OUT: James Tomkins (thigh), Nathan Ferguson (knee), Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder), Gary Cahill (thigh), Connor Wickham (undisclosed), Scott Dann (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Jarrad Branthwaite (ankle), Jonas Lossi (back)

Fulham injuries

None

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin), Pablo Hernandez (groin)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin), Wilfred Ndidi (groin)

Liverpool injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Jordan Henderson (thigh), Joe Gomez (knee) | OUT: Joel Matip (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee),

Manchester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Ilkay Gundogan (COVID-19) | OUT: Bernardo Silva (thigh), Sergio Aguero (knee), Joao Cancelo (foot), Oleksandr Zinchenko (undisclosed)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Axel Tuanzebe (ankle), Phil Jones (knee), Sergio Romero (undisclosed)

Newcastle United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (ankle), Jamal Lewis (eye) | OUT: Matty Longstaff (thigh), Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee)

Sheffield United injuries

OUT: John Egan (suspension), Lys Mousset (ankle), Simon Moore (finger)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Nathan Redmond (foot)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Reguilon (ankle) | OUT: Gareth Bale (knee), Japhet Tanganga (thigh)

West Bromwich Albion injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Ahmed Hegazi (thigh), Kamil Grosicki (back), Hal Robson-Kanu (leg) | OUT: Kieran Gibbs (suspension), Conor Gallagher (loan rules), Kenneth Zohore (calf)

West Ham United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Issa Diop (COVID-19), Josh Cullen (COVID-19), Mark Noble (toe), Sebastien Haller (thigh)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Fernando Marcal (undisclosed) | OUT: Jonny (knee)

UEL roundup: AC Milan, Celtic, Rangers reach last round of qualifying

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Europa League results: AC Milan, Celtic and Rangers were all victorious in the third round of UEFA Europa League qualifying on Thursday, advancing to the playoff round — the final round — on Oct. 1.

[ MORE: Son to the rescue as Spurs advance in UEL qualifying (video) ]

AC Milan 3-2 Bodo/Glimt

Hakan Calhanoglu scored twice — once in each half, including the game-winning goal in the 50th minute — as Milan did just enough to knock out Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt.

Lorenzo Colombo got the other goal for Stefano Pioli’s side, with Bodo/Glimt tallies bookending the Italians’ three.

Riga 0-1 Celtic

Celtic’s progression into the playoff round was far more dramatic, and uncertain. Neil Lennon’s side found itself level at 0-0 as they entered the 90th minute. Exra-time, and maybe even penalties, seemed likely.

Mohamed Elyounoussi had other ideas. It wasn’t the most visually pleasing goal scored on Thursday, but Elyounoussi’s bouncing, first-time finish had just enough on it to evade the goalkeeper and hit the back of the net.

Willem II 0-4 Rangers

As for the other side of Glasgow, Rangers cruised past Dutch side Willem II and were just about through to the next round before halftime. James Tavernier converted from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute, followed three minutes later by a goal from Ryan Kent.

Filip Helander made it 3-0 in the 55th, and Connor Goldson finished the rout in the 71st. Steven Gerrard’s team was one of the most impressive sides on the day, and looked ready for a season-long battle for the Scottish Premiership title. Having played one more game than their local rivals, Rangers currently lead Celtic by a single point.

Notable Europa League results

Shkendija 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (FULL RECAP)
Mura 1-5 PSV Eindhoven
Wolfsburg 2-0 Desna Chernihiv
Sporting CP 1-0 Aberdeen

Notable Europa League playoff matchups

Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa
Rio Ave v AC Milan
Sarajevo v Celtic
Rangers v Galatasaray
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven
AEK Athens v Wolfsburg
Sporting CP v LASK

League Cup: Liverpool win 7-2; Man City survive and advance

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A roundup of League Cup third round results on Thursday, as Liverpool and Man City booked their places among the final 16 teams…

[ MORE: Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa, Blues’ defense? ]

Lincoln City 2-7 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp fielded a team of most of his seldom used players, and had virtually no issues getting past League One side Lincoln. Xherdan Shaqiri opened the scoring in the ninth minute, and he did so in truly fantastic free-kick fashion.

Takumi Minamino scored twice — once either side of halftime — beginning with his first-time, curled beauty in the 18th minute to make it 2-0. The Japanese international appears to have stockpiled plenty of confidence to force his way into the Reds’ star-studded first team with greater regularity.

From there, Liverpool were off to the races. Curtis Jones bagged a brace in the 32nd and 36th minutes, followed the second from Minamino to make it 5-0 after 46 minutes. Lincoln hit back right on the hour mark, but Marko Grujic restored the five-goal lead just five minutes later.

The Imps clawed back another goal just a minute later, but an 89th-minute tally from Divock Origi ensured the Reds would triumph by the five-goal margin.

Up next for Liverpool is a heavyweight fourth-round showdown, at home against Arsenal.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Reyna to Liverpool; Jorginho to Arsenal ]

Man City 2-1 Bournemouth

Pep Guardiola’s men were far from full stretch, and far from their best, en route to a 2-1 victory over recently relegated Bournemouth. With as many as six first-team regulars given the rare night off, City found themselves level at 1-1 with the final 15 minutes approaching. U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen was one of the backups to feature.

Fortunately for City, Phil Foden has stepped forward in recent outings and asserted himself a star of the present — no longer of the future — and reaffirmed his ascent with a well-place winner in the 75th minute.

It was one of the youngsters, 17-year-old Liam Delap, who opened the scoring in the 18th minute, when he hammered a left-footed strike into the upper-90 of the far post. Foden provided the diagonal through ball for Delap and picked up the assist on the play. The lead lasted barely four minutes, though, before Sam Surridge had drawn the Cherries back to level terms.

Up next in the League Cup, City will visit Burnley in the fourth round.

Bristol City 0-3 Aston Villa

A pair of new signings — Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore — bagged goals, alongside the opener from Anwar El Ghazi, for Dean Smith’s Villa, to make it a comfortable 3-0 victory over Championship side Bristol City.

Villa will host Championship side Stoke City in the next round.

Son to the rescue as Spurs advance in UEL qualifying (video)

Europa League - Tottenham
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Son Heung-min got to play the role of hero once again for Tottenham Hotspur, as it was the South Korean superstar’s second-half goal and assist which lifted his side to a 3-1 victory away to North Macedonia side Shkendija in the third round of Europa League qualifying on Thursday.

[ MORE: Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa, Blues’ defense? ]

Spurs took an early lead through Erik Lamela’s fifth-minute strike. Son found his Argentine teammate atop Shkendija’s 18-yard box and Lamela hit his right-footed shot with pinpoint accuracy.

Spurs were in control, without being dominant, for the remainder of the first half. Though they failed to make a handful of half-chances count, Jose Mourinho’s men looked like they never had to move past second gear to remain 1-0 ahead at the halftime break.

The second half, however, was a bit more tricky. Shkendija needed just 10 minutes, and two shots, to pull level.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Reyna to Liverpool; Jorginho to Arsenal ]

Valmir Nafiu let fly from 22 yards out, and there was very little — if anything — Joe Hart could do to get close to the upper-90-bound laser.

After scoring four goals in Spurs’ 5-2 thrashing of Southampton on the weekend, Son provided the moment of quality so desperately needed in the 70th minute. Lucas Moura’s initial effort on goal was saved, but it fell ever so kindly to Son 12 yards from goal. His finish was far from simple, though, as no fewer than two outfield players and the goalkeeper obstructed his path to goal. In the end, he picked out the top-left corner for a delicately placed finish.

It was another moment of quality from Son which propelled Spurs to a two-goal advantage not even 10 minutes later. He whipped in a cross from the left wing and found Harry Kane perched near the six-yard box, where he rose highest and put plenty of power behind his header.

Up next for Spurs will be a playoff-round clash with Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. The winner of that single-leg tie will qualify for the group stage draw.